Many Americans start the New Year resolved to be better, thinner, healthier, stronger—and then find those resolutions almost impossible to keep. Day-to-day obstacles get in the way of good intentions, and we quickly give up.
The best way to stick to our resolutions is to anticipate hurdles that make it difficult to maintain them. Below are some tips to overcome everyday obstacles and “refreshers” to stay on the path to good health all year long.
Resolution: To eat healthier and lose weight
Hurdle 1: Holidays and Special Occasions.
From Super Bowl party goodies to Valentine’s Day chocolates, the calendar gives us reasons to eat, even if the scales say otherwise.
Tips: Plan in advance what you’ll eat on special occasions, and come up with alternative ways to celebrate. Instead of chocolates, ask your sweetie for your favorite flowers. If planning to partake in a calorie-laden event, reduce your intake earlier in the week.
Hurdle 2: Weight-Loss Plateau.
After initial success, you aren’t losing more pounds, so why bother?
Tips: You may have lost enough weight to maintain it with your current caloric intake. Cut back again to restart the losing streak—or better yet, accelerate your results by exercising more.
Hurdle 3: Sabotage.
From neighborhood children selling Girl Scout cookies to Grandma and her delicious mashed potatoes, well-meaning diet saboteurs are everywhere.
Tips: Build a cheerleading squad. Tell your most supportive friends, co-workers or family members about your efforts, then call on them for distraction when temptation strikes.
Refreshers: Forget dieting and concentrate on good nutrition. Don’t deprive yourself of an occasional treat. Find low-calorie versions of your favorite foods, or eat half a serving. Celebrate milestones—like losing 5 pounds—with a non-food treat, such as a new hairstyle to show off your slimmer face!
Resolution: To stop smoking
Hurdle 1: Nicotine Withdrawal.
Nicotine is an addictive drug, so you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, loss of concentration and problems sleeping.
Tips: Try a new hobby or exercise to distract yourself. If necessary, consult with a physician about medications that can help ease your discomfort, or try over-the-counter nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum and lozenges.
Hurdle 2: Weight Gain.
Many people gain some weight (usually under 10 pounds) when they stop smoking, and this is no time for dieting!
Tip: Get moving! If you’ve considered beginning an exercise routine, now’s the perfect time to start.
Hurdle 3: Alcohol.
Drinking often increases the desire to smoke.
Tips: Drink in moderation, and only in “non-smoking” environments. Better yet, volunteer to be the designated driver for the upcoming month.
Refreshers: Recognize daily routines that trigger smoking, such as coffee breaks or watching television, and avoid them. Cut back on caffeine, and drink more water and juice to reduce cravings. Remember that more than 46 million Americans have kicked the habit successfully, and you can too!
Resolution: To start an exercise routine
Hurdle 1: Inclement Weather.
You love the idea of running on a spring morning, but the realities of wind, rain and snow have you reluctant to venture outdoors—and even lazily lounging in bed.
Tips: “Weatherproof” your routine by planning indoor alternatives such as an aerobics video or using exercise equipment. Equipment doesn’t have to cost a lot. Buy a jump rope and an egg timer and try to jump a little longer every day. Or join a fitness center and sign up for a class.
Hurdle 2: Childcare.
If you have little ones, both you and your exercise routine may become dependent on sitters.
Tip: Try involving your children in your workouts. An hour of biking, playing tag or dancing to the oldies is a fun—and fit—way to share some quality time.
Hurdle 3: Busy Schedules.
Sure, when you started, you made exercise a top priority. But as weeks pass, responsibilities involving work, family and social commitments, and even your favorite TV show, can muscle out time for workouts.
Tip: Making time for exercise must remain a top priority. However, when focused workouts are impossible, include more physical activity in your daily routine. Walk your dog, park the car far from the entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator or march in place while watching that TV show you don’t want to miss.
Refreshers: Face it. There’s a reason it’s called an exercise “routine.” Some mornings, your regular workout is just too tedious to face. So force yourself to mix it up. That can be as easy as switching from a Tao Bo to a pilates workout video, or it might require trading your running shoes for a tennis racket. And don’t go it alone. Exercise is a great way to socialize, so invite your friends to come along for a hike!